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Shih Poo vs Shih Tzu: Choosing Your Perfect Small Dog Companion

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Table of Contents

If you’re searching for a little ball of fluff to brighten your days, chances are the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise have captured your heart! As a long-time dog lover, I know how easy it is to fall for their adorable faces, but there’s more to these breeds than meets the eye

When choosing a furry friend to join the family, the decision between a Shih Poo vs Shih Tzu can be a delightful conundrum for prospective pet owners.

The Shih Poo puppy, a cheerful and loving hybrid dog breed, blends the best of its parents – the smart Poodle and the friendly Shih Tzu. On the other hand, the purebred Shih Tzu carries centuries of history as a lap dog to royalty, being revered for its regal demeanor and luxurious coat.

Each breed brings distinct personality traits, exercise demands, and grooming needs.

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Shih Poos tend to show the boundless energy inherited from the Poodle parent, while Shih Tzus maintain a more laid-back attitude, perfect for leisurely afternoons and short walks.

Grooming a Shih Tzu with its long, silky hair might require more effort compared to the variable coat of a Shih Poo, which could be curly like a Poodle’s or slightly straighter like a Shih Tzu’s.

Prospective owners should consider their lifestyle and preferences to determine which breed’s characteristics align best with their own.

Key Takeaways

  • Shih Poos and Shih Tzus offer different levels of energy and exercise requirements
  • Each breed has unique grooming needs due to their varying coat types
  • Personality traits differ, making one breed potentially more suitable for certain households than the other

Breed Origins and History

Discovering the past of our furry friends is like piecing together a family tree. Whether purebred or a blend of breeds, each dog has a story to tell about where it comes from.

Shih Tzu Heritage

The Shih Tzu’s roots take them way back to ancient China, often associated with lavishness within Chinese royalty. They are believed to have been bred from Tibetan holy dogs, linking them to Tibet. The breed, known to live a life of luxury among emperors, has a noble history that heightens their allure.

These purebred pups eventually pranced their way into Western recognition, securing their membership with England’s Kennel Club in 1948 and by the American Kennel Club in 1969.

Shih Poo Ancestry

Enter the Shih Poo puppy, a delightful crossbreed that marries the Shih Tzu with the intelligent and curly-haired Poodle. They are a newer addition to the canine kingdom and don’t have a history as lengthy as the Shih Tzu’s.

The Shih Poo’s story is a fresh chapter in dog breeding, aiming for a mix that could potentially bring together the best traits of both their purebred parents: the Shih Tzu’s affectionate character and the Poodle’s clever wit.

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Unlike the Shih Tzu dog breed, the Shih Poo dog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. The AKC doesn’t recognize any hybrid dog breed. But there are other kennel clubs, like the International Designer Canine Registry that accept hybrid dogs.

Appearance and Traits

Choosing between a Shih Poo vs Shih Tzu is more than just picking a pet; it’s about bringing a new member into the family with its unique look and personality.

Size and Weight

Shih Tzus are generally small dogs, known for their compact size. Adult Shih Tzus typically stand about 9 to 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 9 to 16 pounds.

In contrast, Shih Poos, which are a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Toy Poodle, can vary more in size due to the genetic mix, with adults ranging from 8 to 18 inches in height and weighing approximately 8-18 pounds.

Coat and Colors

When it comes to their coats, there are some distinct differences.

The Shih Tzu sports a long, luxurious coat that can come in various colors, including black, white, brown, and red, sometimes in striking combinations.

On the other hand, Shih Poos may have a coat that reflects either parent breed, resulting in either short or long hair, and often includes a charming curl.

Their colors can be equally varied, including brindle patterns, and they tend to be low-shedding.

Both breeds often rank high for people seeking hypoallergenic dogs due to their hair-like fur, but it’s especially the Shih Poo’s Poodle heritage that bolsters this trait.

Regular grooming is essential for both—not only for aesthetics but also for their well-being. A well-groomed Shih Tzu or Shih Poo is a happy companion, flashing their signature looks with pride.

Temperament and Personality

The Shih Tzu and Shih Poo breeds boast distinct temperaments and personalities that appeal to a variety of dog lovers. They both share a foundation of affection and playfulness but exhibit their own unique blend of traits that make them stand out.

Shih Tzu Characteristics

Shih Tzu dogs are often seen as the epitome of a companion dog, possessing a sweet and affectionate nature that endears them to their families. They are typically outgoing and happy little dogs, usually eager to make friends with both humans and other pets.

With a loyal streak, they bond closely with their owners and often follow them around the house. Despite their small size, they have a playful demeanor and enjoy engaging in games or lounging as a lap dog.

Shih Tzus can be stubborn at times, which may affect their trainability, but this same trait can add to their charming personality.

  • Friendly: Yes, sociable with people and other pets
  • Affectionate: Highly affectionate and craves close contact
  • Playful: Loves to play, suitable for families with children
  • Temperament: Sweet, loyal, but can be stubborn
  • Family-friendly: Excellent family pet

Shih Poo Disposition

Shih Poos, a blend of the Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle, inherit the intelligence and social nature of their poodle lineage alongside the affectionate personality of the Shih Tzu.

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They are playful and tend to be quick-witted, which can make training more of an interactive and engaging experience.

Their social disposition makes them great companions for both humans and other animals, often making them family-friendly and pet-friendly.

Shih Poos can be willful like Shih Tzus, however, their intelligent streak often helps them pick up on commands and household rules quickly.

They share the Shih Tzu’s love for affection, often being described as sweet and happy dogs that enjoy spending time with their owners.

  • Intelligent: Inherits intelligence from the Poodle side
  • Social: Good with other dogs and enjoys human interaction
  • Kid-friendly: Generally good with kids, making a playful companion
  • Temperament: Quick-witted, can be stubborn but responsive to training
  • Family-friendly: Adapts well to family life, enjoys being part of household activities

Health and Lifespan

When it comes to our furry companions, their well-being and the years we can spend with them are paramount. Both Shih Tzus and Shih Poos tug at heartstrings, but they do have their own set of health concerns and life expectancy that prospective pet owners should consider.

Common Health Problems

Shih Tzus can experience:

  • Ear infections: Their floppy ears can trap moisture and lead to infections
  • Obesity: A proper diet and exercise regimen is crucial, as these small pups can easily become overweight
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disorder that affects clotting

Shih Tzu Poodle Mix inherits traits from both the Shih Tzu and Poodle parent breed, which may result in a variety of health problems, some shared with the Shih Tzu like ear infections, while also including:

  • Dental issues: Due to their smaller jaw size, they can have overcrowded teeth that may lead to dental problems

Life Expectancy Discussions

A heart-to-heart about how long these dogs might grace a family is often a deciding factor for potential owners.

  • The Shih Tzu’s lifespan generally spans up to around 13 years
  • On the other hand, a Shih Poo has a slightly wider range, living about 13 to 17 years on average

Care Requirements

When bringing a Shih Poo or Shih Tzu into your home, understanding their specific care requirements will ensure they lead a happy and healthy life. Both breeds share a need for regular exercise and grooming, but their individual energy levels and maintenance can vary.

Exercise Needs

Shih Poos and Shih Tzus have moderate exercise needs compared to other breeds. They both enjoy daily walks and playtime.

  • Shih Poo: They often display a mix of energy levels, leaning towards the more active side due to their Poodle lineage. They benefit from a good walk or 20-30 minutes of play each day
  • Shih Tzu: These little companions have a lower energy level and typically require shorter daily walks and less intense play sessions

Grooming Demands

The grooming requirements for both breeds are significant due, in part, to their coat types.

  • Shih Poo: Their coats can vary but generally require brushing several times a week to prevent matting, with professional grooming every 4-6 weeks
  • Shih Tzu: With a luxurious double coat, they need daily brushing and routine grooming sessions to keep their fur looking its best

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet is vital for the health of both Shih Poos and Shih Tzus.

  • Shih Poo: They might have a more active metabolism, so their diet could lean towards higher energy foods. They often do well on dry kibble formulated for small breeds with medium activity levels
  • Shih Tzu: These dogs require a well-balanced diet that’s suited for less active breeds. It’s important not to overfeed them to avoid weight gain, especially since they’re prone to obesity

Good nutrition and portion control are key for both breeds to maintain their health, coupled with proper exercise and grooming for their overall well-being.

Training and Intelligence

When comparing the Shih Tzu and Shih Poo, their responsiveness to training and their intelligence can significantly differ.


Shih Poos often benefit from their Poodle heritage, which brings a tendency for higher trainability and an innate sense of intelligence. These mixed breed dogs are usually eager to please and can often be easier to train than their Shih Tzu counterparts. Their responsiveness to training is often credited to the Poodle’s reputation as one of the smartest dog breeds.

  • Training Approach: Positive reinforcement works well with Shih Poos. They respond to treats, praises, and play, making the training process a bonding experience
  • Consistency is Key: Regular, short training sessions help keep them engaged

In contrast, Shih Tzus may display a more independent nature, which can sometimes be mistaken for a lack of intelligence. In truth, they do possess intelligence, but their willfulness means training might require more patience.

  • Training Tips: For Shih Tzus, it’s important to establish a routine and stick to it, always employing patience and positive reinforcement
  • Attention to Commands: They may require more repetition to absorb and follow commands

Mental Stimulation

Both breeds require mental stimulation to stay sharp and avoid getting bored.

Shih Poos, with their intelligent spark, may particularly enjoy puzzle toys or games that challenge their brain.

  • Mental Exercises: Interactive play sessions can be a good way of keeping Shih Poos mentally stimulated
  • Variety in Activities: Changing up routines and introducing new tricks can keep their minds active

Shih Tzus might not always seem interested in mental exercises, but they still need that cognitive activation. Owners should gently encourage them to engage in activities that make them think.

    • Engagement is Crucial: Even simple games like hide and seek with their favorite toys can provide mental stimulation for Shih Tzus
    • Social Interaction: They also appreciate socializing, which helps keep their mind sharp

Compatibility with Families

When it comes to welcoming a furry friend into your home, it’s crucial to choose a breed that meshes well with your family dynamic.

Suitable for Children and Other Pets

Both Shih Tzus and Shih Poos have reputations for being kid-friendly and generally blend well with family environments.

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Shih Tzus are known for their loving and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions for gentle children. They’re the kind of pups that enjoy a cuddle as much as play.

      • Kid-Friendly: Yes
      • Other Pets: Usually Friendly

Shih Poos share a similar disposition; their playful and sociable personalities often make them beloved by kids and adults alike. However, due to their small size, interactions with very young children should be supervised to avoid unintentional rough play.

      • Kid-Friendly: Yes (with supervision)
      • Other Pets: Often Good, can vary due to Poodle mix

Adaptation to Living Spaces

When it comes to adapting to different living situations, both Shih Tzus and Shih Poos are quite versatile.

They are small enough for apartment living and don’t require a backyard as long as they get their daily exercise.

Shih Tzus:

      • Can be more active than expected for their size
      • Enjoy being close to their family members
      • Need regular exercise but adapt to indoor living well

Shih Poos:

      • Are typically a good fit for apartments due to their small size
      • Can inherit the Toy Poodle’s adaptability to smaller living spaces
      • May have variable energy levels; some might be more active and require ample mental stimulation

Adoption and Price

When deciding between adopting a Shih Tzu or a Shih Poo, prospective pet parents often consider cost as a key factor.

As recognized by the American Kennel Club, Shih Tzus are a purebred dog breed, which might influence their price. Contrarily, Shih Poos, a mixed breed combining a Shih Tzu with a Toy Poodle, may not have AKC recognition but have their own appeal.

Adopting from Shelters:

      • Shih Poo: $50 – $200
        • Includes microchipping, vaccinations, and neutering
      • Shih Tzu: Price can vary based on shelter policies

Purchasing Puppies:

      • Shih Poo: $1,200 – $4,000
        • Influenced by several factors including breeder, location, and pedigree
      • Shih Tzu: Generally, purebred dogs might come at a higher price due to pedigree

Remember, while the initial price is a one-time cost, the love and companionship of their new furry friend are priceless.

Puppies, regardless of the breed, will also bring ongoing expenses such as food, vet visits, and grooming into one’s life.

It’s essential to factor these into the overall budget when adopting.

Remember, one is not just adopting a pet; they are welcoming a new family member.

Taking the time to consider the lifelong cost of care is a responsible step towards ensuring a loving and secure home for these adorable dogs.

So, lapdog royalty vs. peppy companion – is the Shih Tzu or Shih Poo the right fit for you? Hopefully my explanation of the differences helped you make a better decision.

shih poo vs shih tzu infographic

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